mplayer + dvdnav support … kinda

If you’re looking for mplayer + dvdnav support, there’s two ways to get it right now. Depending on how much support you want is going to change which ebuilds you’ll have to use right now, though.

If you just want simple playback support (no menu navigation), then use portage’s tree. Just unmask and emerge media-libs/libdvdnav, then re-emerge media-video/mplayer. That will build against the older, original dvdread library, but it should be enough to get you around the Sony ARccOS DRM. Hint: mplayer dvdnav://[track_number]

If you want the full playback + navigation support, you’re going to have to use an overlay (specifically, mine). I, personally, am against the idea of using overlays since I think it splits the tree, only asks for problems, and reminds me of using Mandrake back in the day when I had to have all these third-party mirrors just to get software I want. So, I’m really against the idea and wouldn’t be doing this unless there were an easier, simpler way.

Ranting aside, my overlay is at Browse the ebuilds here. I would give some slick instructions on how to add it using layman, but since I never use overlays, I can’t tell you how, and I assume that the people who really know what they’re doing don’t need instructions anyway.

There are very few differences in my ebuilds. libdvdnav will use the newer version of libdvdread, so the one from the portage tree will show up as a blocker (and possibly break all your other packages that use it). After it’s installed, you’ll have to use my mplayer ebuild as well, since it’s configured to use the external dvdread library as well. After that, you can use dvdnav:// as you normally would. Hint: mplayer dvdnav://

I know it’s a bit of work, but until the forked libdvdnav can also work as a replacement or secondary slot to libdvdread in the tree, either option which would require testing, that’s how its gotta be. The plus side though is, it works. :)

sword modules in portage

I have finally gotten around to something I’ve been wanting to do for a while: cleanup the modules for Sword, the text-reading software applications. I thought that the easiest way to handle the modules from here on out would be to create individual packages for each one. They used to be bundled all in one package called sword-modules, which is still in the tree for now, but it was a bit cumbersome to manage.

The new packages are going in the app-dicts category, and you’ll see them trickle in as I get around to adding them one at a time. There are a lot of sword modules altogether, and I’ll probably add all the ones that are freely distributable.

The irony of all this is that I don’t even use any of the Sword apps myself. I don’t like reading books on the computer. But, I know they are popular with some people, so I’m glad to take care of them if I can.

Eventually, I’ll make a new virtual ebuild for sword-modules that will pull in all the ones available based on your LINGUAS variable. It’ll probably be a while before that happens though.

Also, if you’re looking to roll your own ebuilds, there’s a new eclass in the tree, called sword-module. It cuts down on maintenance for me. I’m open to adding other dictionaries in the tree if someone has any — there’s no reason to use just the “official” ones.

gpnl updates

I haven’t written anything about the Gentoo Packages That Need Lovin’ (GPNL) project in a long time, but I thought I’d bump an update. There’s no major releases on the horizon, but I’ve been working on revamping the entire backend in my spare time.

The thing that spawned the change is that I realized you can have portage store its metadata in sqlite. I took a peek at the database and it’s got a lot of good stuff in there. So much, in fact, that I’m pretty sure I can use this instead and do most of my data collection in a mesh of scripting, SQL and regular expressions, three of my great loves.

More specifically, I’m basically taking an sqlite dump, porting it into my postgres database, comparing the data, deleting the old, adding the new, normalizing everything and then cleaning it up for display. It’s actually a fun, challenging project. With the data that comes with the sqlite dump, I’ll be able to do more stuff as well, like finally display eclasses and proper dependencies (thank goodness). I’ve been wanting that for a long time.

The best part though is that almost all of the heavy lifting now is all through SQL. That makes things incredibly faster for me. Importing the data into the database before would take literally between 45 minutes and 2 hours. Now, though, I’ve gone back and cleaned up all the crap and it takes maybe 2 to 5 minutes to do a completely clean import from arches to ebuilds.

One thing I’m glad for is that this project has taught me to clean up my SQL skills a little bit. The main reason the import process was so slow before was because I would delete all the data from all the tables and then repopulate them. It would take incredibly long because of all the cascading deletes. Now, though, I just do incremental updates and deletes, so only what’s recent gets updated. It’s much faster, since you’re touching just a small percentage of the data.

Another cool thing is I got to upgrade to Postgres 8.2 which has some nicer string functions, like regex_replace. One challenge I ran into was stripping the portage versioning suffix off of an atom, but I eventually figured it out.

Anyway, I’m getting really close to having the import process cleaned up completely, so then I can get back to fixing up the frontend and making it actually worthwhile. Good times.

what i'm watching

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but never got around to it. Usually when I write comments on a film, it’s because I think I have a full post that I can write about it. There’s not much of that that comes by, but there is a lot that I wouldn’t mind dropping a sentence or two summary on what I think of the thing in passing, either in jest or admiration. Besides, there’s so much stuff that I do watch at a time, that I couldn’t possibly write a lot about all of them. So, here’s what I’ve been up to recently.


Not at all what I thought it was going to be … I was imagining a futuristic sci-fi thriller or something, instead of this. I’d label it as typical Twenieth Century Fox film fare — lots of sensationalism, not much depth. An interesting movie, certainly an original idea, but nothing more than a popcorn movie that I’d probably never go out of my way to watch again.

I only saw it because I wanted to go out and see something in the theater and I was having a hard time deciding between this and Juno. If I was going to pay box office prices, I figured I’d wait on Juno since it should hit the dollar theaters pretty soon here. And I hadn’t watched any trailers on Jumper, and I love sci-fi action flicks, so I thought I’d have fun with this one. It wasn’t too bad. I’d give it 3 stars.

The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit

This one is also from Netflix, and it scores in the category of “Disney movies I never managed to catch on TV growing up for some reason.” Believe it or not, there’s very few that slipped through the cracks. The reason should have been obvious — I hate *any* movie where animals are anywhere near the star attraction (No, I haven’t seen Ratatouille either, and I have no plans on seeing it). I forced myself to sit through this for about 30 minutes before giving up, closure be screwed. It’s got a horse. It’s going to be about riding horses. I’m bored. Why did I rent this. Next.

Conan the Destroyer

Another one from my queue (I have 5 out at a time), I’ve been watching this on and off for about three weeks now .. partly because I keep losing the disc and partly because I can’t watch 10 minutes of it without getting a little tired of it. This is one of those movies that I swear I’ve seen before but I can’t remember when or where (which, actually, is odd). Parts of it I remember too, and parts I don’t, so I assume I must have just seen it on TV or something. So far it’s okay. I think the thief is annoying.

Tom Thumb

I really, really thought that this one was going to be good. Oh, man, was I off. All I can remember is sitting through that first dance scene with Tom Thumb and the toys thinking to myself, “How long is this going to last?”, finally fast forwarding after patiently sitting through about 5 minutes of it, only to see 15 more of it go by (I’m totally not kidding).

As far as art direction goes, it was visually really pretty and appealing. It would be a really good movie for someone who is maybe 3 years old or younger, but for anyone else, it is going to be a real chore watching this thing. The movie is good, the story is nice, but it drags on much, much too slowly. And I’m the type who enjoys old, slow, 50s movies, too. That’s saying something.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

This movie was so bad that I can’t even remember any of it now. At least I sat through the whole thing. This is one of those where you go in there knowing its gonna be sucky and having zero expectations and *still* coming out disappointed. Wow.

Martian Child

This movie deserves a post of its own, and it will get one some day. 5 stars. Awesome. Go see it!

Oliver Twist

When I saw it in the theater it blew me away. I wanted to watch more dramas after Martian Child so popped this in, and it didn’t hit me nearly as hard this time around. I still feel for the poor kid, though.

The Family Man

Looking for more human relationship drama after watching Martian Child, I went and rented this one at Hollywood. Each time I see this movie, the less attractive it becomes to me. The first time I saw it it really blew me away, but every time since it’s just been an interesting story. Nicolas Cage, though, is an amazing actor, given the right story (Matchstick Men).

Pete’s Dragon

I randomly picked this one out of my collection the other day looking for something to watch. I haven’t seen the movie in probably 20 years, and before then I imagine I’ve only seen it once. I don’t like movies with “are they gonna make it!?” climaxes at the end, and this has one of those, which adds to why I haven’t watched it since. I’m still only halfway through it, but it’s just has hard now to sit through as it was so long ago. I can’t really pinpoint the reason … I imagine it’s because it’s one of those films that tries to be many things at once to many audiences and it just doesn’t really pan out for anyone. I do love the soundtrack, though. I get a kick out of it.

That’s about all I can remember off the top of my head. I’ve been completely knocked off my feet since Thursday because of the flu, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in bed watching TV. And when it comes down to either watching reruns of Mythbusters or a movie, the answer is pretty obvious. The facial hair on those two hosts really freaks me out.

tmnt memories

I caught a review of the last 45 minutes of TMNT 2 on Shamoozal today (a truly horrible movie, I couldn’t agree more), and it got me thinking about the whole TMNT thing way back in the day.  There were some good times.

First of all, as for Secret of the Ooze, I remember watching in the theater, and being sorely disappointed.  It hasn’t been until recently (thanks to Netflix) that 95% of the movies I’ve seen are total crap, so back then there was a really good chance that most whatever I watched I would at least watch again.  This one didn’t make the cut, which was always a mix between disappointment and confusion.

Let’s see, it came out in 1991 so I was 15 at the time.  I think I liked the Turtles for a long time, more so than most of my other things — I don’t really remember now, it’s all a bit fuzzy.  I do know that I had almost all the action figures though … in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I did have all of them.  I know I made at least two home-made movies with our sleek VHS camcorder with the action figures.  I have the original VHS tape here with me, guarding it closely from ever leaking onto YouTube.

I also remember having a large poster of Donatello I think it was (although Raphael was always my favorite), along with the soundtrack to the first movie.  Turtle Power was a cool song, and I still kinda enjoy listening to it.  I’d never buy the soundtrack again.  I do know that TMNT was one of the very first DVDs ever released, that New Line (Warner) put it out, and that I had it for a long time.  You can find it for $4 at any Wal-Mart now.

As far as the movie goes, I remember it sucking hardcore.  So much that I never bothered watching TMNT III, where they go back in time.  It might be in my Netflix queue now … maybe.  The whole thing with Vanilla Ice was just terribly embarassing.  The way that Shredder never did anything was annoying (of course, even in the cartoons, the only time anyone would ever fight was against the robots), and how he died at the end was just really pathetic.

The first movie kicked butt, though.  I haven’t seen that one in a long time.  I’d buy it again, but I’m usually really picky about re-purchasing titles that I’ve had in my collection before and either sold or ditched (I’m on my third take of collecting DVDs again, and this time the “rules” for buying something are a lot more strict as to what I’ll allow).  I’ll have to watch it again just for old times sake.

I really liked the latest one though, the animated TMNT.  I thought that one kicked butt, and if the price ever comes down, I’ll pick up a copy.

Along with my other TV shows on DVD, I already have a lot of the season shows of the original cartoon on DVD.  I know there’s another production of it that’s airing on TV right now, but I haven’t seen it and don’t really plan on checking it out.  Generally speaking, it takes me a very long time to get into something that everyone’s known about for years (for example, I just barely started watching Smallville, now that six seasons have gone by).  Mostly, though, I just get a lot pickier as time goes by.  There are very few new cartoons at all that I like.

The more I think about it, TMNT was one of those that really stood out from the rest of ones that I really got into.  Looking back now, I’m not sure why at all.  I’d probably have a hard time sitting through watching the cartoons, and I don’t like the approach of the formulaic personality stereotypes in the story, and I really sucked at the arcade game, but I guess it was fun.  Kinda weird.

mplayer snapshot bump

I normally don’t post info about version bumps, but since the last MPlayer one was a while ago, and since I’ve been way too busy lately to work on anything Gentoo related, I thought I’d make mention of this one.

Not much to say, though, really … there’s a new snapshot in town (media-video/mplayer-1.0_rc2_p25993).  It fixes some security issues in older versions, which was the reason for the bump.  I’ve tried to change my approach of bumping the package every month or so and instead just focus on getting one release working really well and as many bugs fleshed out as possible in that release.  So far the approach has worked well.

Normally I’d have a good idea of what’s changed between releases, but since I haven’t had time to keep an eye on mplayer-dev either, I couldn’t really say.  I think there’s a few DVD fixes, but I’m not sure.  Sorry. :)

Anyway, as usual, let us know if you have any issues.  Should hit the tree shortly.  Enjoy.

netflix and blu-ray

I find it kind of interesting that Netflix chose Blu-Ray as its high-definition DVD format to back. I guess the “format wars” are almost over. I, personally, always figured that the two would learn to live side by side, since, unlike some previous format differences, the actual media was the same physical size so it would have been just a matter of firmware to play discs from both camps.

However, one thing I completely forgot about is that its the retailers who the ones that are really paying the price while this thing wages itself out, and for one important reason — retail space. It hurts the stores the most because they have to stock the same movie three times over — in standard definition, and both HD formats. And of course the best way to get retailers to take action is to hit them where it costs money.

So choosing a format was never really up to the consumers at all, and I was silly to imagine that in the first place. My only minor annoyance was that Blu-Ray is a stupid name compared to the simplicity of HD DVD, but oh well. Things have worked out well anyway, since I’ve got a Sony Bravia HDTV, and Sony makes some nice Blu-Ray DVD players, and all my DVD players have been Sony. Plus, that whole Bravia Theater Sync thing is really nice (I hit play on my DVD player, and my TV automatically turns to the right input. Plus when I turn off my TV, it turns off my DVD player too. Hey, it’s the small things).

I’m not going to be shelling out $400 for a player anytime soon, though. I’m still regretting paying that much for a DVD player back in 1998. The last one I got, on the other hand, does 1080p upconversion, and it was only $84. Not bad.

I’d love to check out some HD titles some day though, since every time I go to the store and see a demo, my eyeballs take a bath in amazement. I would consider getting a PS3, but I’ve read that you can only control it with a Bluetooth-enabled remote, meaning a universal remote is out of the picture. Bummer.